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A TASTE OF RAINMAKERS:
JODY GERSON
She Went for the Big Job (And Made History)

 

UNIVERSAL ACCLAIM: With Grainge, Michele Anthony and Boyd Muir

In 2014, Jody Gerson made what was perhaps the boldest move of her career—despite some initial trepidation—and saw her years of hard work, superb instincts and creative passion rewarded with one of the most powerful posts in the business.

Her contract was up for renewal at Sony/ATV Music Publishing and she wanted a promotion. She had been Co-President (with Danny Strick) for six years and wanted a top post of her own. “I had a great situation until I realized I wanted more,” she recalled in a 2017 HITS interview, “and I wasn’t going to get more.” She made her case to her boss, Martin Bandier, who wouldn’t go along with it. So, she reports, she picked up the phone and called a competitor, Lucian Grainge, who offered her an even bigger job—Global Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group.

And with that, history was made. On Jan. 1, 2015, Gerson officially became the first woman CEO of a major music-publishing company.

She’s emerged as one of the most important music execs in the world in what seems like a short time—but she’s had years of training to get where she is today.

Part of what makes Gerson so successful is balance: She’s a tough negotiator but scrupulously fair-minded; fiercely outspoken but a good listener; and she can relate to creators and businesspeople with equal focus and understanding. She’s a peer-group leader with superb optics and appears on the shortlist for all manner of community endeavors.

Irving Azoff asserts, “Jody believes what is best for her writers is best for Universal. She’s an artists’ rights pioneer. We need more like her.”

“Jody’s an incredible executive,” says Republic boss Monte Lipman. “Her passion, her drive, her determination and her competitive edge make her one of the most impressive executives in our business, without question. She has such tremendous instincts, and she’s in the streets. She doesn’t operate from some lofty space as Chairman; she’s in it. Usually when I run into her it’s backstage—it’s sweaty and the floor is sticky and people are running back and forth. She gets out there.”

Gerson first spoke publicly about her dramatic ascent to the Chairmanship in June 2017 in a speech at the United Jewish Appeal’s luncheon in which she introduced the honoree, Universal Music Group EVP Michele Anthony. She revealed more a few months later in a HITS interview.

“I think I just hit a wall,” Gerson told HITS, by way of explaining why she chose to leave Sony/ATV, and Bandier, for whom she had worked for most of her career. (They first worked together at EMI Music Publishing.)

“My career was really with one person for over 20 years. It was amazing, but I think it was time for me to really go for it…I knew I could run a company; I just didn’t know it was OK for me to want to run a company. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Why didn’t I do it before?

“Empowerment…is really a two-way street. First, we need to empower women.
And then, at that point, we as women need to say, ‘Wait, why not me?’
I had to come to that myself."

“...As ambitious as I was, I was so caught up in the loyalty. And there was nothing wrong (at Sony/ATV). I had a great situation until I realized I wanted more, and I wasn’t going to get more.”

And having taken the leap, how did having the top job feel? “It feels amazing,” Gerson said in the September 2017 interview. “Better than I ever thought it would. Looking back on my first two and a half years; signing an abundance of incredible artists, having hits, changing the culture, increasing the revenue, working for Lucian, loving my staff and the company. I couldn’t imagine being happier and more accomplished.

“Empowerment…is really a two-way street. First, we need to empower women. And then, at that point, we as women need to say, ‘Wait, why not me?’ I had to come to that myself. And I want other women to be prepared and confident to do the same thing when we give them the opportunities they deserve. That’s the bottom line.”

POST TIME: With Post Malone

Read the entire profile here.

 

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